Although ten years have passed since the category-five Hurricane Katrina claimed 1,833 lives, the New Orleans community still faces many obstacles . After billions of dollars were spent to rebuild the city, recovery has been slow and challenging. Recognizing this struggle, Lowe's has paired up with Rebuilding Together to continue revitalizing the community.
"When disasters like Hurricane Katrina strike, the effect can be felt for years," explains Joan Higginbotham, Lowe's director of community relations. "So many of our own Lowe's employees and stores were personally impacted by the storm and know firsthand how important relief support is to bringing a neighborhood back to life."
Victims' lives were turned upside down, as many people were left without loved ones or a place to call home. For 36-year-old Cassandra Scott, resident of the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, this date will be fully embedded in her memory as the day she lost her home. Because her home was located in an area of the city most impacted by the storm, her life was changed forever.
"Everything was just gone," she describes. "I didn't want to [start over] because I knew it was going to be a hard road. But I knew I was starting over." Scott's new beginning forced her and her five children to relocate to three different states over the course of the following eight years, sleeping in tents and trailers. Unable to afford the cost of rebuilding her home, Scott found herself and her family homeless.
Thankfully, with the help of hardworking volunteers, the St. Bernard Project worked with Scott to design and build her a new home. The organization has helped to rebuild 500 homes, but many victims are still in need of aid.
In the wake of this ten year anniversary, Lowe's organized a way to continue helping victims and recover the community. The company awarded Rebuilding Together a $15,000 grant. In addition, on August 10 and 11, 2015 Lowe's joined the organization for a two-day community revitalization effort to rebuild the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans. This involved the participation of over 170 Lowe's Heroes employee volunteers, all working to make critical home repairs for three Gentilly homeowners.
Other efforts included making upgrades and improvements to Gentilly's Fire Station 27, as well as assembling and distributing hurricane preparedness kits for local low-income homeowners.
Since 2005, Lowe's has donated $650,000 to the cause, as well as restored 10 of the 20 firehouses within the New Orleans Fire Department. Furthermore, the company has partnered with Rebuilding Together, a leading national nonprofit in safe and healthy housing that repairs the critically impacted homes of low-income homeowners and improves the community.